Intel X79 is shaping up to be the definitive platform for performance enthusiasts later this year, but exactly how potent will the accompanying Sandy Bridge processors be?
We're still some way from knowing for certain, but a couple of leaked slides purportedly paint a highly-convincing picture. The slides, said to have originated from Intel before falling into the hands of Turkish website donanimhaber.com, suggest that the range-topping chip - known thus far as the Core i7-3960X - will easily outperform the current desktop champion; Intel's own Core i7-990X.
The Sandy Bridge Extreme Core i7-3960X chip, believed to be scheduled for release later this year, makes use of a new LGA2011 form factor and features six hyper-threaded cores paired with 15MB of onboard cache. Recent speculation intimates that the chip will be clocked at 3.3GHz, with Turbo Boost technology allowing it to hit 3.9GHz in certain scenarios.
Arriving as Intel's pick of the bunch, the i7-3960X is likely to carry a familiar $999 price tag that puts it out of reach of most users, but will be joined by two more affordable options. Next in line, the six-core, twelve-thread Core i7-3930K is believed to carry 12MB of cache, a core frequency of 3.2GHz and a Turbo Boost speed of 3.8GHz. Both the 'X' and 'K' series chips are rumoured to be multiplier unlocked, while the third-tier Core i7-3820 will make do with 10MB of on-chip cache and a fixed 3.6GHz core that'll boost to 3.9GHz.
All three chips are said to to operate within a 130W TDP, and with the added potency of a quad-channel memory controller and Advanced Vector Extensions (AVX), the next-generation Sandy Bridge parts are expected to usurp the Nehalem-derived Core i7-990X at the top of Intel's performance ladder. Intel's internal numbers should be taken with a pinch of salt, but check out the slides below to see how today's Core i7-990X could compare to tomorrow's Core i7-3960X.